Daily foot examinations are essential for seniors with diabetes. Thorough daily examinations allow you to identify and treat common problems immediately, reducing the risk of serious health concerns. Here is a simple diabetes foot exam checklist you can follow.
Check for Injuries
Examine the feet for scrapes, cuts, cracked skin, or other signs of injuries each day, and keep toenails trimmed and smooth to prevent injuries. A round sore that doesn’t heal may be an ulcer, a type of pressure wound caused by poor circulation.
You can treat minor injuries like scrapes at home, but monitor the injury daily. Visit the doctor if your loved one has an ulcer. Minor cuts and scrapes require medical treatment if they don’t heal within four days or if signs of infection are present.
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Watch for Changes in Color and Temperature
Examine both feet carefully for changes in color and temperature. Some people with diabetes experience the sensation of cold feet, even when their feet feel warm to the touch. This sensation is often caused by poor circulation and nerve damage.
Poor circulation and blood vessel deficiencies can also cause blueness, bruises, redness, or paleness in one or both feet. When blood flow is severely restricted, changes in skin color may indicate tissue damage. Consult a medical professional for prompt treatment if you notice color changes in your loved one’s feet or lower legs.
Treat Skin Issues on the Feet
Examine the feet and toes carefully for corns and calluses, which allow dead skin cells to accumulate on the feet.
Treat dry skin with a moisturizer, and have corns and calluses evaluated and treated by a medical professional. Don’t use over-the-counter treatments for corns or calluses without a doctor’s recommendation.
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Examine the Toes
Check between your loved one’s toes for signs of moisture or blistering. Moisture can increase the risk of fungal infections. Keep the feet dry by changing socks frequently and choosing well-fitting shoes that allow the feet to breathe. A doctor or podiatrist can help your loved one choose shoes that are both protective and breathable.
Blistering is a less common condition that affects people with diabetes. The blisters aren’t painful, and they usually heal on their own. Leave the blister alone so it can heal, and consult a physician if the blisters worsen or show signs of infection.
Address Nerve Damage
Nerve damage reduces feeling in the lower legs and feet. The signs of poor circulation caused by nerve damage include tingling, numbness, and pain. Talk to a doctor about the available treatments for diabetic nerve damage if your loved one has these symptoms.
As a general rule, any unusual changes in the feet or toes should be evaluated by a professional. A daily foot examination only takes a few minutes, and it can prevent serious problems like infections and tissue damage.
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